Outdated policies block DOD from using some new technologies, panel says

Defense Department officials want to take advantage of new mobile technologies for combat use, but say they often find their hands tied by security requirements.

“How do we take the technologies that kids are using today and take that to war?” said Bruce Bennett, program executive officer, satellite communications at the Defense Information Systems Agency. “There’s not just one answer anymore. Everything is on the table.”

Bennett, speaking as part of a panel at the Mobile Technologies symposium held in Washington by the local AFCEA chapter, pointed out that, as DOD approaches the 10-year mark of the net-centricity movement, there are still challenges existing at many levels.


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“Net-centricity requires trusting peers and sharing … but that’s the antithesis of how DOD works. We need culture change,” he said.

Other challenges for extending mobile technologies into combat lie within outdated policies and archaic acquisition processes, the panel suggested.

“Our goal is to extend the desktop into the mobile environment … [but] our mobile devices don’t really meet our mission,” said Air Force Col. David Stickley, director of communications and CIO, Air National Guard. “Most of our challenges are self-imposed by policy,” including security procedures that can be counterintuitive, he said.

Col. Scott Moser, G-6 for the Army National Guard, agreed the high-level brass can be a problem for implementing cutting-edge technologies fast enough.

“As CIOs, we’ve gotten into the business of saying no, and that’s not where we want to be. We need to get into the business of saying yes,” Moser said.

He also pointed out that using BlackBerrys in the field for e-mail isn’t enough.

“How do we take new mobile technologies and make them more than just tools for e-mail?” Moser said.

In terms of acquisition, DOD – and the broader government – still struggle with overcoming the old way of doing business and buying technology.

“We’re so entrenched in the traditional acquisition mode; it can be hard to break away from the big, 10-year acquisition business model,” said Patricia Craighill, assistant director, joint planning and development office, NextGen and special adviser to the Air Force CIO office.

All three panelists called on industry to help bring the latest mobile technologies into the theater.

“Security is a responsibility across the board … whether it’s a military provider or an industry provider,” Stickley said.

Even beyond security, DOD wants to incorporate new ideas to get better mobility to troops on the ground, the panelists said.

“There’s not just one answer anymore – it’s about hybrid solutions. Everything is on the table,” Bennett said.

Reader Comments

Mon, Mar 21, 2011

CIOs talks one thing but do just the opposite too!

Mon, Mar 21, 2011

it's not updated technology that the DoD needs it needs people mapped to their job descriptions based upon personality type. this is especially true for the analytical jobs for both contractor and military personnel. the first contractor to use the Activity Vector Analysis (AVA) properly and accurately will win all the chips. Seriously.

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